Designing the future

Translation By: 
Alice Kok
Photo by Eduardo Martins
Fifth year architecture students at USJ share their visions of future Macau

Fifth year students of the University of Saint Joseph’s Bachelor of Architectural Studies recently displayed their graduation projects in an exhibition entitled ‘On the Waterfront’

Macau is the most densely populated place in the world with almost three quarters of a million people living in less than 30 square kilometres.  With land being such a premium, it is crucial that home-grown talent in the areas of architecture, urban planning and housing design is nurtured.
In 2012, the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) opened a new Faculty of Creative Industries, offering some of their most successful programmes, ranging from Design, Architecture, Communication & Media, to newer fields of study like Environment and Urban Development and Information Systems. They are the only higher education body in Macau that offer Architecture, and last month students of the Bachelor degree programme exhibited their graduation projects at Creative Macau, in the Cultural Centre.
This year, the projects of the final year students focused on Macau’s lakes and inner harbour area. The intention was to revitalize the cultural and industrial heritage of these areas, while enhancing the relationship between citizens and the waterfront.  Collectively the work on display was an exciting demonstration of the talent and commitment of the next generation of Macau architects.
Gabriel Marques chose for his project an Aquatic Sports Centre on Nam Van lake.  His inspiration came from a desire to offer multiple swimming experiences that would bring much needed activity to the Nam Van lake area. 
“I chose the location so as to bring more life to the Nam Van area. I wanted to make the most of the beautiful waterfront, to provide more for locals.  If our lakes waterfront was in Europe, I imagine it would be packed with people using it, so my aquatic center would be a leisure destination on the lakes,” explains the 33-year-old.
“In attempting to integrate my building into the lake, I designed the front façade as a curve following the contour of the lake that will allow users to experience the wide variety of views offered by the strategic placement of the structure.  The swimming experience consists of a variety of pools that are linked by a canal allowing the user to always be in the water. There is also a gym, café and changing rooms incorporated in the structure”.
Claire Alexis May Jurado, aged 23, was born in Hong Kong of Filipino parents and grew up in Macau.  Her project is a Youth Entertainment Center that she envisaged being located on Carmo Taipa lake, between Taipa and Cotai.  Her concept is derived from double exposure photography.  She used the example of having two images, say a human face and a tree, and these are merged together to create an aesthetic affect.  
“At first the image looks confusing and complicated but the longer you look at it, and in the case of a building, you experience it, the two different elements become apparent.”  
In architecture, the concept of double exposure invites us to see differences that can provide the key to understanding qualities of uniqueness or similarity in architecture. Double exposure architecture implies more than optical characteristics, it implies a broader spatial order.  
“I wanted to create a three dimensional double exposure,” Claire explains. “My youth entertainment centre is 17,000 square metres and is two geometric shapes combined, containing classrooms, a multipurpose hall, reading area, games room, outdoor playground, family areas, and rooftop cafes”. 
As the building faces the lake and bird sanctuary, Claire has incorporated lots of glass to make use of the lovely surroundings.  Claire is now working full time for leading architectural firm Steelman Partners.  
“Its just my second week at work there,” she smiles. “My work involves a lot of drafting and schematic designs.  The team is amazing – I’m not a robot sat in the corner and forgotten about, they really try and invest time and effort in me, which is good value for both the company and me.”
Twenty-three-year-old Tiago Guilherme Cheong chose for his project to design a 7,585 square metre Intercrossing Transportation Hub, located on the Inner Harbour’s Rua do Doutor Lourenço Pereira Marques. 
“A transportation hub in the Inner Harbour fits well with helping people get around Macau easily.  It not only means a hub, but also means emotions because this is the place where people say hello and goodbye to their families, a place of greetings and farewells.  Nowadays, the development of Macau is making the city grow incredibly, but the majority of the development is on the industry side, in casinos and hotels, and with few improvements to transportation”.   
Being located on the waterfront, Tiago’s project would also be accessible to marine traffic.  
“My aim is to connect all the different transports, mixing functionality with design.  My building is the continuation of the landscape from Penha hill, bringing the curve of the hill down to the waterside.”